On April 2nd 2011, LCD Soundsystem played their last ever gig at Madison Square Garden. Shut Up and Play The Hits intertwines footage from this concert with James Murphy discussing, and trying to deal with, the decision he made to quit at the height of his fame.
I have to admit, when I walked into the screening of Shut Up and Play The Hits, I had no idea about LCD Soundsystem; it turned out that I knew quite a lot of their songs, and the ones I didn’t know, I liked. Surely that is the sign of a great concert film; one that converts non-fans into fans? The film combines footage from the concert – which seemed to have an electric atmosphere – with what could have been James Murphy’s last interview as a member of LCD Soundsystem, and candid footage of his every day life in the 48 hours before, and after, the final gig.
Murphy is candid about his reasons for calling time on the band; he appears to be all to familiar with the demands that fame puts on a person, and the effect that this can have on their life. He repeatedly states that he wants to live his life as a normal person – he wants to ride the subway and make coffee – and while he is grateful for the success he has achieved, he believes that fame and normality do not balance one another out. Tellingly though, while Murphy maintains that he has made the right decision, when he sees all his old equipment that is to be sold off, he bursts into tears. Murphy comes off as a warm and incredibly talented person, and it is this discovery of the man behind the music that makes the movie watchable and gripping.
The concert footage is a lot of fun. The crowd are hanging on the band’s every note, and they seem to be relishing their last performance. The songs sound great and the energy of the show is infectious; it is hard to remain in your seat throughout the movie. Famous faces turn up on stage – Arcade Fire and Reggie Watts- and in the crowd – including Donald Glover AKA Childish Gambino and Troy from Community – dancing their little legs off to songs including North American Scum and Losing My Edge.
In all Shut Up and Play The Hits may be aimed at die hard fans of LCD Soundsystem, but there is enough in the film for non-fans to enjoy themselves as well, and if – like me – you come out with an overwhelming desire to get on iTunes and download the band’s back catalogue, well, so much the better. Shut Up and Play The Hits is fun and noisy, with a little bit of poignant honesty thrown in for good measure. Just like the band itself… I think.